Thursday, March 25th, 2010
All you who love Jerusalem, rejoice with her forever.
Happy Feast of the Annunciation!
Today we celebrate the Eternal Word’s clothing of himself in our human flesh. At the word of the angel, Mary consented to the plan announced to her, and instantaneously the Word condescended to take residence in her womb, its first earthly tabernacle, and immediately the Incarnate Word began his earthly mission of reconciling man to God. That mission would eventually take him to Calvary, where he would assume also our dead flesh, but only to raise it up again and ascend with it back to his rightful place beside the Father’s throne. When glimpsing the whole of Christ’s mission, from conception to ascension, we see how today’s remembrance of the Annunciation prepare us well for the upcoming celebrations of Holy Week.
For today’s Office of Readings, Dominicans are given the option of using the following text for the second lesson. It is taken from the prayers of St. Catherine of Siena.
You, O Mary, have been made a book in which our rule is written today. In you today is written the eternal Father’s wisdom; in you today our human strength and freedom are revealed.
If I consider your own great counsel, eternal Trinity, I see that in your light you saw the dignity and nobility of the human race. So, just as love compelled you to draw us out of yourself, so that same love compelled you to buy us back when we were lost. In fact, you showed that you loved us before we existed, when you chose to draw us out of yourself only for love. But you have shown us greater love still by giving us yourself, shutting yourself up today in the pouch of our humanity. And what more could you have given us than to give us your very self? So you can truly ask us, “What should I or could I have done for you that I have not done?”
I see, then, that whatever your wisdom saw, in that great eternal council of yours, as best for our salvation, is what your mercy willed, and what your power has today accomplished.
Earlier today, the Holy See released the full statement given by Fr. Federico Lombardi, SJ, director of the Vatican’s press office, to the New York Times for its article on the “Murphy Case,” which appeared on today’s front page. Because the article selectively edited Fr. Lombardi’s statement and left obscure certain facts of the case, the Holy See has made the full statement available to the general public.
The following is the full text of the statement given to the New York Times on March 24, 2010:
The tragic case of Father Lawrence Murphy, a priest of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, involved particularly vulnerable victims who suffered terribly from what he did. By sexually abusing children who were hearing-impaired, Father Murphy violated the law and, more importantly, the sacred trust that his victims had placed in him.
During the mid-1970s, some of Father Murphy’s victims reported his abuse to civil authorities, who investigated him at that time; however, according to news reports, that investigation was dropped. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was not informed of the matter until some twenty years later.
It has been suggested that a relationship exists between the application of Crimen sollicitationis and the non-reporting of child abuse to civil authorities in this case. In fact, there is no such relationship. Indeed, contrary to some statements that have circulated in the press, neither Crimen nor the Code of Canon Law ever prohibited the reporting of child abuse to law enforcement authorities.
In the late 1990s, after over two decades had passed since the abuse had been reported to diocesan officials and the police, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was presented for the first time with the question of how to treat the Murphy case canonically. The Congregation was informed of the matter because it involved solicitation in the confessional, which is a violation of the Sacrament of Penance. It is important to note that the canonical question presented to the Congregation was unrelated to any potential civil or criminal proceedings against Father Murphy.
In such cases, the Code of Canon Law does not envision automatic penalties, but recommends that a judgment be made not excluding even the greatest ecclesiastical penalty of dismissal from the clerical state (cf. Canon 1395, no. 2). In light of the facts that Father Murphy was elderly and in very poor health, and that he was living in seclusion and no allegations of abuse had been reported in over 20 years, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith suggested that the Archbishop of Milwaukee give consideration to addressing the situation by, for example, restricting Father Murphy’s public ministry and requiring that Father Murphy accept full responsibility for the gravity of his acts. Father Murphy died approximately four months later, without further incident.